Scintillating butterflies

ByUmair Ali

Trainee lawyer

Dated

July 24, 2022

Umair Ali describes some beautiful creatures

The beautiful butterflies come in their thousands and reportedly there are some 17,500 species of them. Some are as large as bats and others smaller than human fingernails. Some live longer than a year and others are extinguished in a few days. Some put on art shows with their iridescent colours while others blend into their backgrounds with camouflage colours or transparent wings. Butterflies are extremely endearing and occupy human imagination all the time. Butterflies are a unique feature in their existence and never fail to fascinate anyone looking at them. Their presence around the globe is certainly a good fortune for humans who add flavour to the existence on the Earth.

Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing is the world’s largest butterfly and is usually found in Papua New Guinea, in the Popondetta valley. It boasts a wingspan of nearly 30 centimetres (12 inches). Because of their large, delicate wings, these butterflies avoid thorny habitats and can often be seen fluttering above rainforest canopies, looking for flowers in the trees.

Glasswing
While most butterflies like to flaunt colourful wings, Glasswings go the opposite route, with transparent wings that make it easy for them to blend with their background. These well-camouflaged Central American butterflies have wings with black rims, well packed with flat, leaf-like scales. The transparent areas have narrow, bristle-like scales, which are spread far apart, letting the clear membrane show through. The water-repellant scales are necessary to keep the wings from sticking together.

Peacock Pansy
Found in South Asia, Peacock Pansy butterflies are often spotted in low-lying areas in gardens, in the open countryside, and in and about rice fields and roadways. Male and female look very much alike in colour, shape and pattern, but the species exhibits a seasonal difference in appearance—so much so that wet-season and dry-season varieties were once considered to be different species.

Zebra Longwing
The Zebra Longwing has long black wings with unique thin stripes, which it uses in stately, graceful flights. Found in hardwood hammocks, thickets, gardens, and especially in the Everglades National Park, these are the only butterflies known to eat pollen, which may account for their longer life-spans of about six months, rather than the paltry one month many other butterfly species live.

Eighty-eight
One does not have to think too long and hard about how this butterfly got its name as it is found fluttering in Central and South America with underside hind-wings that appear to be emblazoned with the number 88 (in some cases it’s 89). Both sexes of the species like to eat rotting fruit. Shortly before sunset, male 88s often luxuriate in the sunlight with wings outspread, before finally retiring beneath leaves to spend the night, safe from tropical downpours.

Blue Morphos
With their eye-catching blue colour and wingspans reaching about 20 cm (8 in.) across, Blue Morphos are hard to miss in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, and other places in Central and South America. Humans are advised not to eat these butterflies because the flying insects dine on compounds poisonous to us. They can also be born gynandromorphic, that is, with some characteristics of both male and female. TW

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